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Author Topic: The Fabulous Fleischer Brothers  (Read 717 times)
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Urban Legend
« on: 05-24-2004 13:27 »
« Last Edit on: 05-24-2004 13:27 »

Max and Dave Fleischer apprecation thread. It's really shocking how little people know about these two men (who have overseen over 600 films), so hopfully this thread can help shed some light on "Fleischer Studios".

Max Fleishcer invented rotoscope in 1915, this device allowed filmmakers to track live action film sequences frame by frame, and allowed the to use live action footage to create animation. He later invented the rotograph which allowed for the mixing of live action and animated film by placing live action backgrounds on a rotating turntable behind animation cells. Every film which uses animation (Hand drawn or otherwise) mixed with live action footage, owes something to this device, and it was the inspiration for Disney's multiplane camera.

He and Dave founded Fleischer Studios in 1919, a produced silent films, mostly cartoons starring Koko the Clown. A little known fact is that this studio produced the first cartoons with sound in 1924, dispite Disney saying that "Steamboat Willie" was the first cartoon with sound even to this very day. These sound cartoon are where the "Follow the bouncing ball!" idea was invented, another inovation thought up by Max Fleischer which he hardly ever gets credit for. Cartoons with sound however, didn't really catch on until 1928.

KoKo the Clown didn't suite the "Talkie" cartoons of the 1930's so Fleischer brothers were forced to drop him. Betty Boop bacame their big star in the early 30s, and was the first cartoon character to deal forthrightly with sex as well as being the first animated female star. Most of the charm of these cartoons however, was lost when Hollywood inacted the Hays Code in the mid 30s, censoring the cartoons.

The Fleischer's needed a new star, and they got one when they began to make cartoons based on King Feature's "Popeye" character. These cartoons introduced a formula which has been one of the most popular concepts in animation history. The hero (Popeye) and the villain (Bluto) compete with eachother in a series of contests, to reach an end goal. This formula has been used in Bugs Bunny cartoons, Road Runner cartoons, and many others. These Popeye cartoons were even more popular than Micky Mose cartoons at one point.

Through out the 1930's the Fleisher's were the only animation studio to give Disney a run for it's money. It was to only non Disney animation studio to win any Oscars in the late 30s and early 40s; But a labour strike in the late 30s cause huge problems for the Fleischers, so they moved their studio to Flordia, and became ununionized. This led to them becoming heavy in debut to Paramount.

Their first feature length animated film in 1939, Gulliver's Travels, did quite well in the US and Latain America, but due to World War II it wasn't released in Europe, and resulted in huge losses for the company. The second and last feature film (All their other films were shorts shown at the beginning of Paramounts live action movies) they realeased, "Mr. Bug Goes to Town" did not preform well in theatres at all.

In from 1940-42 the studio released mostly Superman cartoons, which contain what is said to be some of the best animation direction ever. These cartoons contained complex shots that were usually only seen in live-action movies. Osamu Tezuka and Hayao Miyazaki have both said that they were influenced heavily by these films in theri work.   

Paramount forclosed on the Flesicher's loan in 1942, ousted them from the studio, and renamed it "Famous Studios". While this studio did indeed produce some good pieces of animation, they never had the same charm of cartoons produced and directed by the Fleischer's themselves, who unfortunitly never bacame a major force in animation again.

Sources: http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/archive/innovators/fleischer.html  http://www.toonopedia.com/fleischr.htm  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Fleischer 

Whew. That took me a whole hour and a half. Well, Though I'm sure some of you were well aware of them before, what does everyone think of the Fleischers? I'm sure my opinion of them is pretty clear at this point.      ;)

*Edit* Fixed the major spelling and grammer errors. 
Mr Fuzzywuvems

Bending Unit
« Reply #1 on: 05-24-2004 13:35 »

I'd kind of heard of the Fleischers but I never realised they were so influential.
I've never been a huge fan of Popeye or Betty Boop but even so I think the Fleischers deserve alot more respect than they generally recieve. 

Liquid Emperor
« Reply #2 on: 05-24-2004 13:39 »

The Fleischer brothers were indeed very infuencial in the early time of animation. It is unfortunate that Disney got most of the attention, there are some real gems that have been lost.
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